Students return to Minn. reservation high school that months ago was scene of mayhem
September 6, 2005
RED LAKE, Minn. – Students who missed weeks of school last spring after a deadly shooting started the academic year Tuesday on a closed campus with armed security guards and metal detectors.Red Lake High School Principal Chris Dunshee said 272 students reported for classes in the morning.About 300 students are eligible to attend the high school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, which was torn apart in March when a student killed five schoolmates, a teacher and an unarmed guard at the school before taking his own life. Jeff Weise, 16, had earlier killed his grandfather and his grandfather’s companion.Though classes reopened in mid-April, as many as two-thirds of the student body stayed away for the rest of the school year. Classes were held in an older part of the school building – away from the scene of the shootings – and police were on the scene.School officials didn’t worry about truancy then, but they spread out across the district this summer to encourage students to return, and Tuesday morning, students filed off their buses and moved quickly through newly installed metal detectors at the school.Other new security measures include three armed guards, surveillance cameras and more door locks, and at least one police car will remain parked out front as a deterrent, said Pat Graves, the acting public safety director.Campus was closed for the first time. During the normally bustling lunch period – when students hop into their cars to speed off for a break from classes – the campus was quiet outside. Now, once students arrive for the day, they won’t ordinarily be allowed to leave.School officials were still working out scheduling kinks, but Dunshee reported an uneventful morning.”We’ve got a lot of kids in the building – we just need to get them in the right place,” he said.Two students who were severely injured in the shooting and are continuing to recover – Jeff May and Steve Cobenais – were not at school for morning classes, Dunshee said.About 50 students at all grade levels decided to leave the district this year for other schools in the area. The exodus was somewhat higher than most years, officials said.